Onward March! Today we are going to talk a bit more in depth about Grades 3 and 4. Remember, the children in this age group dwell in the plant kingdom. They look to us and rely on us, as their teachers, to create an environment that will allow them to grow and develop in their proper stages. They will take what we present them and internalize it.
Third Grade: The children in this grade are open to learning as long as it is brought to them imaginatively. However, doing gestures dreamily will not cut it with this crew! The inner life wants to be expressed outwardly. They are more energized and demand more independence. They need a creative challenge. This is all a result of the 9 year old change that they will experience this year. We can peak their interest by telling them we have taught them a secret code (or will teach them a secret code). Most children will know how to read by this time and will therefore know phonetic sounds. We can tell them the gestures we have been learning (or will learn) represent sounds we make when we speak. We can spell things out with our secret code! Right away, they will want to know what you are talking about! Show them how each of the gestures represent a letter. Then you can have them guess whose name you are spelling. They will beam with pride because during this year they will find a reconnection with their names. (I will show how to do this as soon as I can get my Youtube channel figured out… remember, I am not technologically savvy. It might take me a minute).
Keeping along the same path of needing things to be the same but more of a challenge, we still do exercises in a circle, but the circle has transformed. It will not always be done in a traditional, geometric shape. They can shrink, grow, and multiply the circle. They can walk triangles, squares, spirals, diamonds, all in a circular fashion (going around and around). The pentagram can be introduced; it’s just a circle in a knot. We can walk the sliding figure eight (peanut shape), crossing figure eight, double the circle, etc. All this can be done in an exercise specifically made for grade 3. Again, referring to the curriculum, we can walk the form of the Days of Creation! Let’s take Day 1 for our example from Movement for The Elementary Grades by Francine Adams:
In the beginning God created (stand still)
Heaven and Earth. (expand and contract one step)
And the Earth was without form and void.
And darkness was upon the face of the deep. (begin walking slowly in a circle)
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (faster in sliding figure eight)
And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good. (crossing figure eight)
And God divided the light from the darkness. (divide into 2 circles) And He called the light, day and the darkness He called night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day. (return back to one circle)
Fourth Grade: The children have gained a little independence, but now in this grade, they will also demand attention. We have to give the children in this grade careful, healthy attention, so as not to have an opposing effect of independence gained in grade 3. This year, the transition into the Thinking Stage begins. It is our job as their teachers to present opportunities to them for connecting their Will to their Thinking. It is crucial that this connection is made. If this connection truly happens within the child, then new possibilities and willing readiness emerges. They desire to know that what they are doing is important and fitting. They desire to make those important things visible. If we can help them accomplish this, they will begin feel that Eurythmy isn’t just for little kids. It is true. How can we achieve this? By teaching grammar and syntax through Eurythmy. And how can we do that? Let me show you some examples:
- Nouns – we look for spacial forms that express something concrete, like and house or mountain. A spiral that opens in front is a good example of a form that fits the word for house. Then we use gestures to help us express what we are trying to say.
- Verbs – If it is an active verb, we walk it backwards. This takes much more strength and Will to do, just as an active verb does. If it is passive, we walk it forwards because it doesn’t require as much effort. For example: “I sleep” is straight forward. It doesn’t require much effort on our part to sleep. It just happens. Therefore, it is forwards. “I work” is walked backward. It takes a lot more effort to work our bodies and is done purposefully. But what about “I live”? Life is long, so this movement should be long. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes its smooth sailing with little effort. So if we put all this criteria together, we should walk from front to back, and in the distance. If you were to get up and do this form right now, it would lead you to walking the horizontal line. A new direction of walking!
- EXAMPLE: So let’s put an example together. Let’s take the Brave and True verse.
Brave and True I will be. (It’s hard work to stand true when the world is doing otherwise, so let’s walk that backwards. And maybe do a B gesture and T gesture for brave and true.)
Each good deed sets me free. (Let’s walk a small, personal circle where we stand to represent that concrete noun of deed. And let’s throw a G gesture in there so everyone knows it is a good deed we are doing.)
Each kind word makes me strong. (Sometimes it’s easy to talk nicely and other times it’s hard to find something nice to say. So let’s put our horizontal line from back to front in here. And let’s do a W gesture for Word).
I will fight for the right, I will conquer the wrong. (This is definitely not an easy thing. We are fighting here! So we must walk backward. And let’s put a big, strong R gesture for Right and then a W gesture for Wrong.)
This is a very simple example of creating these Eurythmy sentences using grammar and syntax, but it provides a clear example of how this should be done. Of course, you can throw more gestures in there if you so please. But the simpler the better; at least when you are starting out. Once these gestures are learned, you can add more and more until you have almost every word represented! It can become a very beautiful verse to move!
I hope this helps you understand bit more about Grades 3 and 4, and what they need. These examples I have given are just a small sample of what can be done with these children! I want to provide more games and exercises that can be done with these children as soon as I have completed outlining the upper grades. So if you have young children, please stay tuned! There is more to come!
(Up Next: The Thinking Stage: Part 1 (Class 5 and 6) also known as The Bridge Years. What this means and what in the world can we do with this group?! Stay tuned!)